Friday, August 7, 2015

Behind every obstacle is . . . another obstacle!

Since I’m a writer, I’m going to tell you a story. (it’s a true story, by the way)

Back in middle school I ran track and was mostly a sprinter, competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m relay. Since it was middle school and we were all just starting out in the sport, the coaches had us attempt many different events for both track and field. I won’t talk about my failed attempts at the high jump (I think my coach’s words were something to the effect of, “We can’t let you compete in high jump. You’ll break your back.”), or my less than stellar attempts at long jump.

But I will tell you about my (short) stint with running hurdles.

When I started, I was actually pretty decent at it—enough that the coach let me compete in a meet for hurdles. However, during the meet I tripped over one of the first few hurdles and went down in a hard fall.

For every attempt after that meet, when I would run up to the first hurdle I would skid to a stop. I never could clear another one. My mind shut down and to this day the thought of jumping over anything sends a shiver up my spine (I even cringe when my daughter insists on going over the fence between the soccer fields and the parking lot rather than around it).

I mention this time in my life because I feel as though that’s how I approach most obstacles in my life. I start out pushing as hard as I can, jump as many hurdles as possible, but if I stumble on one then thats it. Game over.

I know that many of you reading this can relate to the difficulty of overcoming obstacles. Some of you are likely pro-hurdlers at this point, while others of you practically face plant with each new hurdle. Regardless of how graceful you are as you leap over your hurdles, each jump still provides you with the same risk of tripping and falling down.

Obstacles are nothing new in my health and fitness journey. With every attempt I’ve ever made, the obstacles were in abundance. And unfortunately, each time in the past I’ve let one of them take me down and I’d leave the race.

Since I joined FXB—almost a year ago now—I’ve seen my expected share of obstacles. But this time was different, because I knew that mentally I was in a different place than I have been for any of my past attempts. For the past 11 months I’ve stayed focused, refusing to get discouraged. It’s not been easy, but I’ve endured and I’ve felt a surge of victory after each hurdle I cleared.

But these past few months have been one thing after another. They’ve all been pretty minor obstacles, but oddly those are the ones I have the most difficulty enduring. Maybe it’s because there are so many more mole hills than mountains in my life. It’s kind of like pennies—one alone isn’t really that big of a deal, but they suddenly become worth something if you had a hundred of them.

I find that it’s the same with life challenges. The little ones add up. I become tired. In addition, even small challenges slow down progress. So when I hit challenge after challenge with not much progress to counter them, I start to lose the will to fight.

These last few months I’ve had a string of small challenges. They weren’t a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but they are things that I normally would have let derail me.

Summer Break
One of the primary reasons I stopped working at Cummins was because I wanted to spend more time with my daughter. That meant that summer break was a time for the two of us to have some mommy-daughter fun. Since I started FXB after summer break last year, this was the first time I had to find a way to balance the time with my daughter and my time at the gym. I figured out a plan, but it required my daughter to come with me 2 days out of the week. She wasn’t happy about that (as much as she loves FXB, she loves her couch in the mornings a bit better). Also, this new schedule left me with pretty much no time to myself. I didn’t have that ‘alone’ time to write, check emails, or even go grocery shopping. It would have been so easy for me to let my workouts take a backseat while I put all those other things first.

Yep, my allergies hit me again toward the end of summer. I had been popping allergy meds every morning and it was working great, but either they stopped working or a new allergy popped up that was stronger than the meds I was taking. I felt like crap. I couldn’t breathe. I was tired because I wasn’t sleeping well. Naps sounded so much better than workouts.

Okay, I’m sorry to my male readers out there as this is something you likely won’t understand. At the end of summer I got a bad sunburn on my back and shoulders. Anyone who has ever suffered from sunburn will understand that even a shirt touching the skin is like torture. But only my female readers will understand the magnitude of that torture when it’s your bra straps cutting into the sunburned skin. I couldn’t lift my arms. Pain. Just . . . pain.

Thyroid Meds
I have thyroid issues and have been on two different meds for several years. Long story short, I’m in process of switching specialists and it’s been a nightmare. During this transition, one of my prescriptions expired. Well, old doctor wouldn’t renew since I hadn’t been in. New doctor can’t renew because I’ve not been in to see him yet. So now I’ve been off a med that I was on for years and it will be that way for at least another month until I can see the new doctor. If you know anything about the thyroid, then you know it can really mess up a weight loss journey. It would be so easy for me to dismiss the hope of any progress until I’m back on my meds, and if I’m going to do that then why workout so hard?

None of these are the end of the world. Alone, none would set me off course. But adding them all up together, one right after the other, and I was starting to get fatigued. Throw in the fact that because it was summer my nutrition wasn’t 100% to plan, I knew I couldn’t afford to skimp on the workouts. So I pushed past each hurdle.

  • I blocked out my daughter’s complaints about having to go to the gym.
  • I dragged my daughter to the grocery store with me.
  • I suspended my writing.
  • I found a new allergy medicine.
  • I suffered through the sunburn (although I didn’t do the burpees or anything else that required me to lift my arms above my head).
  • I’m still trying to ignore the thyroid med problem and pretend as if it has no impact whatsoever on my weight/mood/energy . . .

And then I hurt my foot.

I had been up and down a ladder (barefoot) for three days while painting my home office. I had spent the majority of one Monday painting—up and down the ladder and on my feet. The next day my foot was sore, but I thought it was normal. It was expected after all that work. On the following Wednesday it was still sore, but not enough to make me think I shouldn’t workout. I was actually feeling really good for the first time in a long time (sunburn was gone and new allergy meds were doing the trick) so I was pushing it hard. I wanted to make up for those other days I couldn’t hit it quite as hard as I had wanted.

It was the last few seconds of class. I was doing my left roundhouse burnouts. After a couple kicks, I dropped my left foot back before bringing it back up for a kick and I felt something pull.

Dang it.

Basically I’ve discovered that I’ve had Plantar Fasciitis for several years, and with all the ladder work I aggravated it and then the kicking just pushed it over the edge. I cried. It was a big, ugly cry. But not because of the pain in my foot.

I cried because I feared that this would be that one hurdle that took me down. After a string of challenges I was tired. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get back up if I had to take time off for an injury.

It was that point for me. That point where I felt that every time I started to make real progress something stepped up and stopped me. It was that point where I reached that invisible expiration date. The one that said my journey would end right about the one year mark—because that’s where so many have failed for me before.

I’m so tired of running up to that one hurdle that trips me up and skidding to a halt before turning to walk away.

So I told myself that I wasn’t going to take time off. I was still going to go to the gym and just do what I could without hurting my foot further. Was that the right thing to do? I don’t know. Ask a doctor and they will probably tell me no. But I know me, and I know my body and my mind. A huge part of my journey is a mental game. I need to believe that I can still jump over every hurdle that is thrust into my path.

I’m not saying that I’ll never take a day off, or go on vacation, or rest an injury if I feel that not doing so would cause permanent damage. That’s all part of life and I’ve said more than once that it’s important for me to find a program that allows me to live my life.

But  it’s also just as important to be part of a program that supports me when I feel there is a hurdle I need to clear.

So I limped my way into class the day after I hurt my foot. It was upper body day and I knew I could get through okay. I had to switch a few things up—such as putting my left foot forward and stepping back with my right so I didn’t flex my injured foot—but I made it work. Then I limped my way back in the next day for kickboxing. I got my own bag and stayed in the far corner. I figured I could go at my own pace and still be burning some calories even if I couldn’t go full steam. And being by myself meant I wouldn’t slow down the rest of the class.

But you know what? My amazing FXB family still made sure I was included in the workout. They held their squats/planks/etc. until I was done with my combos. There was no resentment. There was no guilt thrown my way for delaying them a few times (especially on the kick combos). There were no sneers from anyone wanting me to get off the mat.

There was only encouragement. And an impromptu foot massage after class (thank you Kari!!).

So thank you to all of my FXB family. Not only for supporting and encouraging me, but for reminding me once again that I’m not alone in this journey. And for making me believe that I will get up from any fall simply because you will be there to lift me if I can’t do it myself.

Have I told you lately how much I love my FXB family??

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